Bintel Blog

A Painter of Rabbinic Primal Screams: Boston Expressionist Hyman Bloom

By Benjamin Ivry

Art lovers have until January 24 to catch a compelling exhibit at the Yeshiva University Museum, “Hyman Bloom: A Spiritual Embrace.”

Originating at Massachusetts’s Danforth Museum of Art the show focuses on Bloom, one of the key Boston Expressionists examined in “Boston Modern: Figurative Expressionism as Alternative Modernism” by Judith Bookbinder (University of New Hampshire Press, 2005).

In tragically majestic, angst-ridden canvases, several entitled simply “Rabbi With Torah” (undated, cat. 48; c. 1995-2005, cat. 41; 1999, cat. 46) viewers can see a Jewish parallel to Francis Bacon’s “Three Screaming Popes.” Bloom’s painterly primal screams hardly lessen in power as the painter advances into great old age. Misprized early on by both admirers and detractors, Bloom was prematurely dubbed by critic Clement Greenberg as “America’s Greatest Living Painter” in the 1940s, while in the ‘50s, Hilton Kramer nastily commented that seeing Bloom’s work in a gallery was like “finding gefilte fish at a fashionable party…You can smell the pastrami.”

Both extreme appraisals missed the point. Born Hyman Melamed in Brunaviški, a Latvian village, Bloom emigrated with his family to Boston’s West End in 1920. There he was taught by the noted art instructor Harold Zimmerman, who stressed painting from memory, an approach which turned out to be ideal for an aspiring visionary like Bloom. Choosy about his friendships (Bloom’s closest ally and patron was the even longer-lived A. Stone Freedberg, Bloom was an ardent fan of hazanut, especially the famous cantor Pierre Pinchik, whose “Hassidic fervor” galvanized Bloom.

Ever in search of ecstasy, Bloom also studied Flamenco and Tibetan music, learned to play the sitar, and even took LSD. This offbeat mix made for unusual results, as his longtime art dealer Terry Dintenfass implied in an interview when she claimed that Bloom was the “most beautiful man I know in the whole world except for Ornette Coleman. He’s a very strange man.” Juxtaposing the innovative jazzman Coleman with Bloom rings true. Both created stunning riffs on familiar themes, rendering them strange and sometimes unsettling.

Watch below a trailer for a new short documentary, Angélica Brisk’s “Hyman Bloom: The Beauty of All Things.”

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Pierre Pinchik, Hilton Kramer, Hyman Bloom, Ornette Coleman, A. Stone Freedberg, Clement Greenberg




Find us on Facebook!
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • The Cossacks were a feature in every European Jewish kid's worst nightmare. Tuvia Tenenbom went looking for the real-life variety in Ukraine — but you won't believe what he found. http://forward.com/articles/202181/my-hunt-for-the-cossacks-in-ukraine/?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.